It is only one-and-a-half months into the New Year, and Kannur in Kerala has kept its date with murder politics. It is now two down; the latest killing was reported on Monday night when a Youth Congress leader was hacked to death weeks after CPM workers openly chanted during a procession that his “days were numbered”. Shuhaib, 30, was attacked by four car-bound men who threw bombs to scare bystanders before inflicting 37 cuts below his waist. He bled to death while on way to hospital. Police say that this is something new—to cut victims’ legs to make sure they would not escape. “Going by the details we have so far, it appears to be a political murder,” said Kannur SP G. Siva Vikram. On 19 January, a local RSS leader Shyamaprasad, 24, was killed in a similar way by four activists belonging to SDPI, the political wing of the Popular Front of India, a Muslim organisation which the government is planning to ban. It was alleged that CPM had instigated the murder. Shuhaib is the 10th victim in Kannur, home to both Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, after the LDF came to power 20 months back. The tally reads: BJP 6, CPM 3 and Congress 1.
Shuhaib’s murder is viewed as opening of a new war front by CPM since it is after almost three decades that a Congress worker has been murdered by CPM in Kannur. Ever since the 1990s, it has been mostly CPM-RSS/BJP straight confrontation in the Malabar region which has claimed almost 200 victims so far. As usual, CPM’s Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan, who himself is accused in a couple of murders, has denied any involvement of party workers in the state. And, as usual again, he has promised strong action against any party worker found involved in the murder. But when asked what action the party had taken against those who raised those provocative slogans, he has this to say: “Slogans are raised for the heck of it. It does not mean that those workers are behind the murder.” But the truth is that it is a stark reminder of the killing of Marxist rebel T.P. Chandrashekharan in 2012. That time too, days before his murder, local CPM leaders had vowed to kill him, later only to deny any involvement. It is just a coincidence that one of the accused who is serving sentence in jail has been elected to party’s local committee.
Even four days after the murder, the police have not made any arrests. However, in the FIR it has said CPM workers were behind the murder and it was “politically motivated.” According to Shuhaib’s father, the police are yet to visit the house or speak to him. He has gone on record that his son had told him of certain people trailing him days before the murder and that Shuhaib had feared for his life. Congress leaders staged a dharna in Kannur and promised to launch an agitation against CPM terror. Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said Kannur was witnessing CPM’s “red terrorism”, a marked difference from the party’s earlier stand on Kannur killings. “CPM has taken law into its hands. Ever since the party came to power in 2016, there have been 21 killings. CPM does not allow any other party to function in the region,” he said. Still the police are unmoved. “They are waiting for the list from the party office,” BJP leader K. Surendran said, while on a TV channel discussion, referring to the well known CPM practice of presenting dummy killers in front of the police while the actual killers go scot free. Later Surendran in a Facebook post said Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had to wait till the killing of a Congress worker to “agree that there is Red terror in the state”. “He had sided with CPM and ridiculed Janaraksha Yatra. The cry of such a person has no value at all now,” Surendran wrote. BJP since had urged Congress workers to join hand hands with the party to “counter the terror unleashed by the CPM”.
However, it is the state Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, who takes the cake. Despite holding the home portfolio, he has not found time yet to react to the ghastly murders. But he has made it a point to express solidarity with the use of a Malayalam song in a yet to be released film featuring a teen who has become an Internet sensation for her wink. Some Muslim organisations have taken offence against the song being used in such a context. Vijayan said it is an old song performed at Muslim weddings in the state and expressed his indignation at the “intolerance towards independent thinking”. That was some preaching from the supreme leader of a party in the state which clinically silences voices raised against CPM. Ironically, the party has just launched a massive fund raising programme to defend those involved in the killing of RSS worker Kathiroor Manoj. To those who are not familiar with the case, it will be worthy to note that the top investigating agency in the country, CBI, has named CPM’s Kannur district secretary P. Jayarajan as “the mastermind” behind the 2014 murder and has slapped UAPA against him.